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Elementary Art

May 18, 2001

I have mis-timed this article. You have just two days left to see the children’s art exhibit at the library. Art from various Longfellow Elementary classes are displayed at the library through this weekend.

It is an enjoyable exhibit. People of all ages have looked it over — and not just the artists and their parents, as your cynical side may have whispered to you. Children’s art can be delightfully fresh.

We have paintings, drawings, crayon works, collages, as well as text and poems. In the children’s room are displayed books made by individual author/illustrators or by entire classes.

One book, “Fantastic fun for families visiting Salida,” is a guidebook with recommendations from students about their favorite things to do and places to go.

I’ll slant my review here a little toward the written works, because efforts to describe art are generally doomed to failure.

But some description is still required. Several poem/collage combinations are on display. For example, 2nd-grader Camille Zwaan’s work on the color gray collects representative pieces of gray — fabric, feathers, pencil lines — on gray paper around her poem. One swatch is sepia-toned, but it works nicely.

From her poem: “Gray is like a story book with torn pages … Gray is when your feeling are hurt.” But, as well, gray “feels like a silky sweater warm and cozy,” and gray is “mountains far away on a sunny day.” Perceptive.

Kathryn Thompson, also 2nd grade, made a similar collage, “What is Palomino gold?” In addition to her samples of the color, she describes it. “Palomino gold is the color of the sun lite in the fall.” My favorite: “Bees buzzing makes me think of it.”

Ryan Thonhoff made a collage about white. White is “steaming popcorn in a pan … It is the sound of the summer air flowing through my window.” One of the delights of good art is this kind of synethesia.

The artwork includes abstract as well as realist paintings. Louis Slechta’s painting depicts a rocket launching. The rocket appears to be named “KSBV.” Does this mean he’s tired of classic rock and wants to send it into outer space? Or is this an honor for the local radio station to be sent into the great unknown as our representative?

Many of the artists “framed” their paintings, as well, with elaborate borders that complement the paintings nicely. Children often use colors in satisfying ways that the rule-ridden minds of adults discount … until they see it done.

You know that plaintive sigh: “Ah, to be a child again.” Curiously, though, a child that is not sufficiently bent on becoming an adult is often a “problem.” Makes me wonder what it is we really want out of children. I think our society is a bit confused about it. Parents often are, but that’s how it’s supposed to be.

In any case, I want more children’s art. It makes me feel good. We have a couple more days of this exhibit, and I hope we’ll get to do it again in the future.

For your summer activities, you might like to know that the library recently added more children’s art resources, courtesy of the members of the Art of the Rockies Association, in the form of videos: “Drawing for all (5 tapes),” “Art lessons for children (6 tapes),” and “How to visit an art museum.”

Quick, make your first summer art exhibit the library’s. Next up, a photographic history of the Salida-Aspen concerts.

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